Over the past few months, Anna and I have been using an excellent educational program that covers the beginning reading skills, alphabet, basic science, math and much more. It is called Rusty and Rosy and was created by Waterford Institute–a respected leader in educational materials for schools and home schools.
Rusty and Rosy is not your run-of-the-mill software program that tries to teach children while mostly just entertaining them. Believe me, we have tried several of those programs in our house and they were never worth the price I paid for them–even when I paid very little. I first learned about Rusty and Rosy because my son was using it in his first grade class during computer time. He would come home and tell me what he had done and learned. He was very excited.
When my daughter had a problem with preschool and we decided to bring her home (she calls herself a Preschool Dropout), I wanted to still find a way to get her ready for Kindergarten. That is when I remembered my son’s experience with Rusty and Rosy and looked to see if the program was available to parents.
I wasn’t prepared for how excellent the program would be and how much my daughter would enjoy it. We got our Rusty and Rosy drive and hooked it up to our computer. The drive contains all the lessons and materials for 3 years of reading learning. Once you hook it up to your computer and create an account online, Rusty and Rosy also has the ability to adjust to the skills your child already has and customize learning from the resources on the hard drive.
Because Anna had very little reading skills, Rusty and Rosy started at the beginning of the alphabet and with basic number counting as well as weather and dates. We also get some science lessons thrown in. As she increased her skills and her speed, the program adjusted so that she was never bored or over challenged. She asks to use Rusty and Rosy just about every day and when she forgets and I remind her, she is more than happy to spend 30 minutes on the lessons. Actually, I often have to tell her that she has spent enough time on the computer.
I find the lessons very interesting as well and usually sit with her an watch her learn. The graphics and songs are engaging and the skill building exercises are good. There are only a few activities she has not liked. On the whole, she is excited to participate and learn. She like Free Play where she can go back and do lessons and activities again that she has liked. Even though there is a lot of repetition, Rusty and Rosy makes it fun by changing the songs and graphics so that it seems “new” all the time.
One thing I have liked about the Rusty and Rosy program as a parent is that I can move the hard drive to any computer. This means that if I need a computer for something, I can move her drive to another computer and her lessons start up in the same place. We have used it on both Mac and PC with good results. We had a couple glitches where a lesson started and then mysteriously skipped, but I found that the lesson was repeated later.
Also, Rusty and Rosy has a Manager that allows parents to see how their children are progressing and even tailor the learning a bit more. You can choose to have your child learn keyboarding or you can choose for them not to participate in science lessons.
When I was playing around with the Manager, I also found another superb resource–Educational Resources. This section contains worksheets for all sorts of activities like letters, numbers, as well as instructions for parents on how to use the resources successfully. Instead of searching the internet for resources, everything is right here with guides and suggestions to help you teach your child. Anna loves it when “play school” and complete worksheets together.
If you have two children who are at different levels, they can both be using Rusty and Rosy and the program tracks their differences. We have not used this feature so I cannot comment on it.
You can purchase Rusty and Rosy through the Waterford site or through Home school sites and sites like UPSTART. It is not cheap at around $500 but it is well worth the cost because you get 3 years of learning for up to 5 kids and it is customized to their abilities. And when compared with preschool for a year, it is about half the cost in my state for a 2 day a week program. In your state, it might be even less. If you have more than one child at different ages, you can pay a bit more and get a lifetime subscription for just a bit more and use it with several kids.
I have to give this program my Squeal of Approval because it really lived up to and exceeded my expectations. It is a great way to get a child ready for school, supplement or replace preschool, or to home school a child. I would have never thought about home school because I don’ see myself as qualified to teach it, but this resource really made it easy for me to make our experience great.